What Are The Materials Required to Build A Deck

With all of the trends going around, people are considering redoing or building their own decks. What are the materials required to build a deck? Home renovations and DIY home decor are becoming increasingly more popular, continue reading to find the all-inclusive list of materials needed to build a deck.

Wood (Lumber For Decks)

Obviously, when building a deck, the most important material is wood. This is what almost the entire structure will be built out of. Before building your deck, it is important to find the correct type of wood to use.

It is also important to not only purchase the right amount of wood and keep it in your price range but also to use wood that is strong enough to hold the weight of people and furniture on the deck. Some people choose to use fake wood rather than real wood and both of them have their own pros and cons. It is important to understand all of the options before purchasing the material.

Why Cedar for Decks

According to many builders’ personal experiences in decks and deck building, cedarwood is a great option to use for wood. One contractor we researched stated that he had built five decks for customers and had used cedarwood for most all of their projects.

One tip for working with cedarwood includes waiting until a year has passed to stain it because this prevents the wood from turning gray and old-looking.

On the other hand, many builders prefer to use fake wood instead and are very satisfied with their results. One person talked about how they just had a neighbor recently rip out their deck after only having it for a couple of years. One of the issues with real wood is the upkeep between the staining and other maintenance repairs. He said that they are building their deck right now out of fake wood and it has been very easy.

To review a forum of deck builders and read more of their personal experiences, refer to In-Depth Out Doors.

Deck Footings

Stability is crucial for your deck and the foundation of stability will be the footings. This is where your support posts are seated on the ground but cannot just touch the earth or be stuck in a post hole. You will need solid footings for your deck posts. Most DIYers find premade concrete footings are best because they are sturdy, affordable, and simple to use.

It is also possible to use cement mix or easy-to-use Quikrete on the footings. Check your local building codes to be sure you are using proper materials and plans so that your deck with be up to code.


Along with the wood to build the deck, railings are just as important. Depending on the style of deck you are building and the design style you have chosen for the house and deck, there are different railing options. Some choose to go with a more traditional deck look by getting wood railings that will match the materials they used for their decks.

Others want their deck to appear more modern and match the modern style of their house by installing metal railings. For people who have a bohemian and relaxed style, some choose to create a more simple appearance by using rope as a lightweight perimeter on the deck. This style is also very popular in beach houses to give a more relaxed vacation appearance.

Within the different materials used to create the railings, there are so many different ways of creating a railing that will perfectly pull together the deck and the house. This is a great chance to really accentuate the style you are attempting to achieve.

Nails and Screws

While building the deck, it is important to have enough nails to successfully nail down all the wood and create a secure deck. Along with the quantity of the nails, the quality is just as, if not more, important. Ensure that you are purchasing nails that are long enough to create a secure holding and that they are the correct material for the type of wood (or fake wood) you are using. Using the wrong building materials could ruin the result of your deck.

The alternative to nails is screws and that is the choice of many professional deck builders. Screws give a better bite into the wood to provide secure fastening. Nail heads can also be an issue when they are not flush with the wood so this makes screws a better option as you can get them flush more easily.

Just be prepared with a good quality drill to install all those screws. Electric drills are more ideal for a DIY project because you get more power for less money and batteries need recharging frequently.

Sander and Sandpaper

Before the deck is completed, it has to be properly sanded. This is often done once before building, again before staining, and each time when a new layer of stain needs to be applied. Check the specific type of wood for the sandpaper grit needed (level of abrasiveness) to properly sand your wood type.

An electric sander is much more efficient than hand sanding. Dust masks are great for keeping dust and toxins out of your nose and lungs. And a good pair of gloves help prevent painful splinters, especially if you have to manually sand some areas.

Paintbrushes and Other Painting Tools

Paintbrushes and tarps/drop cloths are required to stain the deck. Check the instructions on the back of the wood stain for an accurate list of materials needed to apply it. Some stains may require additional materials and each of them has different setting times and recommended amounts.

Wood Stain

After the deck is built and sanded, the wood stain will be needed to pull the deck together and make it the color you have desired it to be. As previously mentioned under “wood”, some people suggest waiting until the first year after the deck is built to stain it. It is important to do personal research about the wood to properly stain your deck.

Stain can be applied with brushes, sponges, rags, or a sprayer. Be sure not to get any on your plants because the stain can kill flowers and plants. You can cover plants with a painter’s drop cloth, while a plastic tarp or plastic sheeting can kill the plants due to trapping heat from the sun.

Remember to use latex gloves too. Gloves will keep you from having stained hands that are very difficult to get clean.

Deck Sealant

Once the deck has been stained, you can apply a deck sealant. This will give the deck a waterproof layer to protect the structure from rain and snow. Check the instructions on the deck sealant to see if it needs to get sanded down after the stain before applying it.

Some sealants will also provide UV protection from the sun. However, every area of the world has different levels of climate, UV impact, and weather. Considering those issues and how much sun your deck gets daily will factor in on how long the sealant protection actually lasts.


Throughout the building and construction part of the deck, there are many different tools you have to use. Depending on the exact type of deck you are building and the certain material you have purchased, you may not need all of the materials below.

  • Shovel
    • This is necessary to dig out the area where the deck will be built. This is one of the first steps to creating the deck. Without the shovel, it will be really hard to build a proper foundation.
  • Ladder
    • This depends on what type of deck is being built. If you are building a deck that is ground level, a ladder may not be necessary, while taller decks will require a sturdy ladder.
  • Saw
    • Depending on where you purchased your wood, it may already be pre-cut to the exact measurements you needed. If this is not the case, you will need a tool to properly cut the wood to fit the size of the deck. Around the corners and ends of the deck, you may have to cut pieces smaller to fit the measurements. Saw options include a circular saw, chop saw, jig saw, and table saw.
  • Hammer, nail gun, drill, air compressor
    • Throughout the building process, a hammer and other tools will be required to build a proper deck. These will be used to hammer the nails or insert screws to secure the deck in place.
  • Measuring tools for the deck build
    • A tape measure and chalk line tool will be key for measuring cuts and proper alignment. A framing square ensures your deck is square and many professional deck builders use a speed square as well. Don’t forget a bubble or digital level.
  • Gloves and Other Protective Gear
    • It is important to protect your hands from the wood and the tools you are using. While building anything, it is important to wear correct and proper protective gear. Safety glasses are highly recommended.

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